I want to raise an issue for discussion that I have observed a few times in my first year on PPCC, as well as from years before as a member of the public: alcohol.
On a few occasions, we have had the opportunity to review and either come to a consensus on supporting a requester’s pursuit of a CUB (alcohol retail license), or not support the position by taking no position.
I understand the limitations of the PPCC and the entire process, but I must ask if our reviewing these items is worth our time, and, if so, how appropriate are the standards by which we currently analyze an applicant’s request?
Our town has a history of blocking alcohol, from actively fighting applicants, to pressuring CD11 to maintain a “quiet, bedroom community.”
Luckily, we’ve evolved from that point. However, recently, we have been confronted by every food or grocer or retail store asking for a license or an upgrade.
Our criteria used to analyze an applicant includes location from school, type of liquor, reputation of operator, general benefit to the community, process of enforcement, among others.
Our process also involves both personal experience and our own prejudices. This makes us partial and unable to judge things independently.
We have effectively supported Moku and Taste, Kay & Dave’s, and Sam’s, partly because they have been good operators and a positive addition to the community.
And yet, other “town applicants” are within the school zone, and many share attributes with projects we have not praised.
This lack of overall criteria and position appears to produce inconsistent and uneducated positions. We do not even know how the public, whom we represent, feel about having so many places to purchase alcohol, nor if they (or we) understand the risk that comes along with profit opportunities for applicants.
It seems we must have that conversation first before evaluating any new individual applicants.
Our current “cocktail” environment is built upon years of what I see as “the forest for the trees.”
Peer reviewed studies show that an increase in the number of alcohol retailers is directly related to an increase in harm—from domestic abuse, auto, motorcycle, and pedestrian injury or death, to child abuse, and others.
So, we can keep discussing and debating individual requests that will, mostly, get a license despite anything we say or do as advisors.
Or we can take a step back and make decisions based on our primary mission “to protect and improve the quality of life” in Pacific Palisades.
Alcohol is just a warmup, and I, for one, believe we have failed in our deliberations.
Pot dispensaries are coming.
What happens when a business wants to open within the legal limits?
What happens when two or three (new businesses want to sell recreation and medicinal pot), or the gas station, or Pharmaca?
Do we apply the same standard of “more places to buy are more convenient” and choice for the community?
I would very much like to discuss this as a council and find a well-reviewed and educated framework.
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